How To Prevent Colds and The Flu: A Special Report
Cold and flu season is upon us. People all around you may be coughing and sneezing. They may be feverish and achy. You’re concerned about catching whatever it is they have. You’re also hesitant to get an immunization for the flu for whatever reason.
So what are your options? There is a way to win against colds and flu. This report will explain all about colds and flu, how the immune system works and why it’s important for remaining healthy, and some ways to treat and beat colds and flu naturally.
If you’re alive and reading this, you’ve had a cold; in fact you’ve probably more than one. Colds are viral infections which are highly contagious. The infection affects the mucous membranes (soft lining) of the nose which is why one of the main symptoms of a cold is having a runny nose. There are more than 100 different viruses which can cause you to come down with a cold.
Colds are usually mild and anyone with a cold will recover within seven days to two weeks. The problem is once your body is a weakened state due to the cold virus; it’s also susceptible to other viruses or bacteria. This means you may start out with a cold and end up with an entirely different illness.
Everyone can catch a cold from an infant to adults of all ages. In fact, it seems no one is immune to the viruses although breastfeeding infants do seem to avoid colds to some degree probably due to the immunity the mother’s breast milk provides. Once a child stops breastfeeding, all bets are off and they will likely catch a cold, too.
People don’t realize they are sick and are often contagious as early as the day before the begin showing signs of having a cold. They will remain contagious as long as one to three days after they begin feeling better. If you’re not aware you’re sick, you don’t know to take the precautions usually recommended.
Colds can be spread in a couple of ways. The infected person coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth which sprays water droplets into the air. The germs can land on objects such as doorknobs or telephones and are spread when someone touches those objects. Germs can also be spread by shaking hands with someone who is ill; the germs enter someone’s body when they touch their nose or eyes.
You can suspect a cold if you or a family member has any of these symptoms: a sore throat, sneezing, runny nose starting out like water and becoming more yellow-looking, stuffy nose due to swelling of the mucous membrane in the nose, headache, coughing, feeling tired, and possibly a temperature, especially among children.
The best way to avoid catching a cold is to stay away from people who are sick. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Don’t purposely go to places that are crowded to reduce the risk of becoming infected. Wash your hands often to keep from inadvertently infecting yourself by touching your nose or eyes.
Traditionally, colds are treated by taking a decongestant or antihistamine to make the symptoms less bothersome. Avoid using more than one cold medicine at a time to keep from overdosing on any one ingredient.
You might also consider using moist steam vaporizers in your home to keep the mucous membranes of the nose moist. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and make a pot of chicken noodle soup. Scientists have determined chicken noodle soup really can help you feel better if you eat it while having a cold.
Influenza, or the flu for short, is a viral infection which causes fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, and extreme fatigue. While the symptoms are similar to those of a cold, the flu can result in a person developing other, more serious conditions such as pneumonia which is the contributing factor to most deaths from flu each year.
Most people with the flu will be fine within a week or two, but some people are more susceptible to the virus which can affect them more seriously. Those people considered at high risk for getting the flu include babies and children younger than five, senior citizens, and anyone with other medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes. People with autoimmune diseases including AIDS or rheumatoid arthritis, are also considered high risk.
Flu shots are generally recommended for anyone in a high risk category. Those in the medical field are also recommended to get the vaccine because they are around sick people. If you’re around children or older people in your job, you may be encouraged to get a flu shot as well.
Some people don’t see the need in getting a flu shot you may still catch the flu even if you get the shot. Immunity to the particular strain of flu going around is not guaranteed. Some reports also show the vaccine may actually do more harm than good because they are made with known hazardous toxins such as Thimerosol (mercury), Formaldehyde, and Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze).
You can become infected with influenza by being around an infected person when they sneeze, cough, or even laugh. If the virus lands on a surface and you touch it, you transfer the virus to your own hand which transfers the virus into your system by touching your nose or eyes.
Avoid getting the flu by washing your hands often, staying away from people who are ill, and avoiding areas with large numbers of people. Doing anything you can to bolster your immune system will also help. This includes taking extra vitamin C during cold and flu season.
How the Immune System Works
How often a person becomes ill during cold and flu season is in part determined by the condition of their immune system. The immune system is made up of the various organs and glands in our bodies which help keep us healthy and strong. The system includes the bone marrow, connective tissue, lymph glands, and organs such as the spleen, tonsils, and thymus. Also included are white blood cells, T-cells, and B-cells. Each one has a different part to play in keeping us well.
Illnesses occur when one of the parts of the immune system are compromised by a virus or bacteria. Whether or not we get sick during cold and flu season really depends upon the strength of our immune system. With that in mind, learning to build up your immune system may be your best defense against cold and flu season. And, if you do begin to feel bad, you can use any of these natural remedies to support your immune system.
Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu
Grandma may have had the best idea for combating cold and flu. She cooked a big pot of chicken noodle soup. Scientists now agree that there are real therapeutic properties in chicken noodle soup; of course Grandma knew that long ago.
The steam rising from a bowl of hot soup can help clear congestion when it is breathed in. Some doctors recognize the drug-like agents similar to those found in some cold medicines. Acetylcysteine is often prescribed for bronchitis. A similar amino acid is released from the chicken during cooking.
Most cooks add garlic and pepper to their soups. These have been used for centuries to help combat respiratory disease. They work much the same way as modern cough medicines by thinning the mucous lining which made breathing easier. Homemade soups also contain vitamins and minerals which are easily absorbable by the body. If you can build your immune system with the foods you eat rather than using chemicals and synthetic vitamins or minerals, your body will thank you for it.
Avoiding sugar during the cold and flu season may also help you avoid getting sick. Sugar, particularly refined white sugar, suppresses the immune system. Science has shown the amount of sugar found in one serving of any regular soft drink, about eight teaspoons, will inhibit the immune system by 40% for at least five hours, if not longer. Sugar also depletes the body of vitamin C which is important to the immune system.
Cutting sugar out of your system during cold and flu season may be difficult. It does fall during the time many people are accustomed to eating sugar. Between Halloween candy, desserts at Thanksgiving, and sweets normally eaten during Christmas, it’s no wonder many people are susceptible to cold and flu viruses.
The immune system is also bolstered by getting enough vitamin D3 which is available for free every sunny day. Walk out your door into the sunshine and soak it up. If the weather is cloudy and dreary, you can supplement vitamin D3 by consuming eggs, liver, and cod liver oil which are readily available all year long.
Herbal remedies are also recommended to beat colds and flu naturally. Most discount grocery stores, pharmacies, and health food stores carry bottles of herbs. If you’re able to correctly identify and harvest them, you can also find many herbs close to where you live and make your own herbal remedies. Herbs can be used to make tinctures, teas, and salves which may prove effective in treating many illnesses.
Echinacea – This is one herbal remedy often recommended when a person first notices the signs of having a cold. This works by boosting the white blood cell count which is important for supporting the immune system. If the immune system is healthy you’ll be able to fight off an infection better.
While you can purchase Echinacea in capsule form, they may not be as potent as needed to properly treat a cold or flu unless you make your own capsules in small batches to ensure their efficacy. Unfortunately, the ability of Echinacea to combat colds, flu, and even strep throat has made more people aware of it and looking for it in the wild to the point it is now becoming rare. Most capsules are made from Echinacea which has been grown on a farm and aren’t depleting natural sources.
Echinacea is best when taken as a tincture or a tea. Some herbalists recommend taking a dropper full of the tincture every hour. Since Echinacea is an immune stimulant, those being treated for a compromised immune system (having rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme’s disease, Lupus, or AIDS) should not use it.
Some people may be tempted to try to use Echinacea in an attempt to avoid getting sick. It would be better to eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest. Be careful how many herbal stimulants you use. Stimulating your immune system too much could create more problems in the long run than ending up with the cold or flu.
Yarrow – This flower is found along roadsides and in fields; it has been used to treat wounds since ancient times. Recent studies have revealed the ability of Yarrow to reduce inflammation and pain. An herbal tea made from the dried flowers acts as an expectorant enabling those with a cold to have productive coughs. It also induces sweat and has analgesic properties which make it a good choice for those suffering from cold and flu symptoms.
Bring water to the boil and pour one cup over 1 teaspoon of finely chopped, dried herb. You can also use one tablespoon of fresh flowers and leaves. Cover this and allow it to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain the herb from the water and drink two to three cups between meals.
Elder Berries – This remedy is something you may want to keep on hand as it takes a while to make it. Be sure to use only blue berries to make a powerful anti-viral mixture. This can be made by filling a Mason jar with dried elder berries. Cover the berries with brandy and let it sit for six weeks. After the six weeks are over, drain the brandy and flavor it with honey to taste. Take one tablespoon each hour beginning as soon as you notice symptoms and continue to take it during your illness.
You can also use elder flowers in a tea to treat cold and flu symptoms. The tea includes:
1 part elder flower
1 part yarrow leaf and flower
1/2 part peppermint
1/2 part rose hips
Pour water over the mixture of herbs and let it brew for about 1/2 hour before drinking it. It may be sweetened with honey to taste to make it more palatable. This can be taken often throughout the time you have symptoms.
St. John’s Wort – St John’s Wort may be one of the more easily recognizable herbs. It has been studied for years to determine what properties it contains which can be used for medical reasons. So far, St. John’s Wort has been proven to be an effective anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. Taken internally, it acts directly on the nerves where the virus hides. To ensure you take it properly, check with an experienced herbalist or naturopath before using.
Ginger – You have probably enjoyed ginger ale from time to time. Did you know that ginger is effective in fighting against Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, and E-coli. It also lowers fevers, aids in clearing upper respiratory infections, and alleviates nausea. There are so many conditions ginger is good for; these are just a few of its many benefits.
Make ginger tea by grating fresh ginger root with a cheese grater. Place it in water and allow it to simmer for at least 20 minutes. The amount of water you use depends upon how strong you like it. Add lemon and honey to the tea and enjoy it.
Fire Cider Vinegar – This vinegar is made from ingredients which have anti-viral properties. You can use fire cider vinegar to avoid becoming ill or for reducing the effects of the symptoms once you become ill. It is good for nasal congestion. To make this, you’ll need to fill a Mason jar with the following:
1 part minced garlic
1 part grated horseradish (grate it and let sit for three minutes before adding it to the mixture)
1 part grated ginger (you don’t have to peel it first)
1 part minced onion
1 dried cayenne pepper
Stir the ingredients and add enough organic apple cider vinegar to cover. Let this sit for four to six weeks in a cool place. After the time is up, strain off the liquid and take one tablespoon per day or when you feel the symptoms of a cold or flu.
Rose hips – You’ve probably heard that taking extra vitamin C will help ward off a cold and maintain good health. You can purchase over-the-counter vitamin C at the store, but you can also get it from nature. One way to do this is to eat rose hips. Why rose hips? They have been proven to contain more vitamin C than oranges.
What are rose hips? Every rose bush has rose hips; you can find them after the flowers have bloomed and the petals have fallen off. The rose hips are the red fruit left at the end of the growing season. Many herbalists wait until after a couple of frosts before gathering the rose hips. They can be stored in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Remove the inner hairs and seeds from the rose hips after they’re completely frozen. You can also make syrup by placing two cups of rose hips in six cups of water. Simmer the rosehips for twenty minutes and then strain them from the water. Keep the water and add raw honey to taste. The syrup will store in the refrigerator for about a month. If you’re making your own rose hip syrup, be sure they are taken from rose bushes which haven’t been sprayed with chemicals.
Do you get a sore throat from coughing while having a cold or the flu? There are many natural remedies you can use to treat it. Here are a few.
Licorice tea – Besides helping a sore throat, licorice tea also treats coughing and bronchitis often associated with having a cold. You can find licorice tea in nearly any grocery store. You can also buy loose tea in bulk from many companies selling bulk herbs. Please note: licorice should not be used during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. It also shouldn’t be used by people suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure.
Rose Hip Honey – Use the same ingredients as for making rose hip syrup. Fill a jar with rose hip fruit and then pour local raw honey over the fruits. You may need to stir the fruit to ensure the air pockets are gone and then add more honey to ensure the rose hips are covered. Flip the jar over a couple of times a day. After three days you’ll have powerful antibiotic, anti-viral, sore throat soothing syrup which is also high in vitamin C.
Horehound Sore Throat Syrup – Long ago people kept horehound in their medicine cabinets to soothe sore throats. You can easily make a syrup using 1/2 cup horehound (the flowering tops), 2 cups of water, 2 cups local honey (or more to taste). Boil some water and pour 2 cups of water over the herbs. Allow the water and herbs to sit for two to four hours and then strain the water, reserving it. Gently re-warm the mixture and dissolve the honey. The syrup, when taken, will numb the throat and make it feel much better.
Coughing is another symptom of cold and flu that makes a person feel terrible. Some people have productive coughs which are characterized by excessive phlegm, so you’ll want to use an expectorant to help the body get rid of the phlegm. For this type of cough, you may want to use elecampane, plantain, and hyssop.
Non-productive coughs are dry produce little to no phlegm. They keep you from being able to rest and burn your throat. Anti-spasmodic herbs will suppress non-productive coughs. Mullein, hyssop, plantain, elecampane, and thyme all have these qualities.
Thick phlegm deep in your lungs can make your chest feel heavy. Plantain, marshmallow, slippery elm, and mullein can be used to loosen the phlegm.
Elecampane honey – This root has been used for centuries and was used extensively by the ancient Greeks. It is a powerful expectorant which loosens phlegm and helps increase the productiveness of a non-productive cough.
Make this honey by filling a jar with the sliced roots of the herb. Cover it with honey, stir to get air bubbles out, and then let it sit on the counter for several days. Turn the jar over a couple of times. To use the honey, take one teaspoon as needed for coughs and sore throat.
Plantain – This herb can be found in nearly any yard around the country. It is known for being able to remove poison from the skin, heal rashes, and treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema when used externally. If taken internally in tea form, plantain can soothe a cough and bring up phlegm. It also helps to soothe the inflamed mucous membranes from coughing for hours.
Thyme – Thyme is often thought of just as an herb used in cooking, but you can also use it to make a tea. Infuse thyme in water for a minimum of twenty minutes. When you drink it, it helps clear the lungs and reduce a relentless cough.
Here Are Tips to Stay Healthy During This Flu Season
* Get enough sleep, normally eight or more hours because if you’re fatigued you can’t fight off a virus.
* Exercise to keep your immune system strong.
* Avoid sugar as it impairs the immune system which makes you more susceptible to germs.
* Wash your hands often or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs on your hands.
* Eat a diet full of immune-boosting foods. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables can help your immune system and reduce your susceptibility.
* Keeps your hands away from your face regardless of how many times you wash your hands. Flu and cold viruses gain entrance through the nose, eyes, mouth, and possibly the ears.
* Fresh air and sunshine are also an important part of staying healthy.